Jayawardene says Cook’s batting has helped England reach top

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2012, 16:06 PM IST

London: Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene has admitted that England are certainly the best Test team in the world, but only when opening batsman Alastair Cook scores.

Cook passed 6,000 Test runs against Pakistan in Dubai last month, but he, just like the rest of England batsmen, struggled to perform against quality spin attack, which denied him the width he usually feasts off against the quicker bowlers.

England were humiliated by Pakistan as they claimed Tests series whitewash 3-0, and badly exposed England batsmen against spin. Even Cook finished the series with a tally of just 159 runs at a lowly 26.5 average, which is way below his Test batting average of 48.60.

But, Jayawardene believes Cook’s unbeaten 163 on Friday, helping England to win their first warm-up match against a Sri Lanka Board XI by an innings and 15 runs, is a portentous sign that Cook is back to his best.

“It’s always a good challenge playing against England, who is the best Test side in the world. England have a very solid batting line-up, but Alastair Cook is probably the guy who has been the most consistent for them over a period of time,” Jayawardene said.

“Cook’s the one who has shown the ability to pile up big scores. He can bat all day, and he’s comfortable defending and attacking,” Jayawardene said.

“He’s a very versatile batsman, so if we can get him out cheaply it’s going to make things easier for us. Apart from Cook, the real strength of their batting unit is that Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss are all different types of players but all complement each other,” he added.

ANI